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Beyond General Equivalency: Waubonsee GED Enhanced Program Helps Students Achieve Dreams

David Kabanda, of Oswego, who emigrated to the U.S. 14 years ago from the Republic of Congo in West Africa, is wrapping up his first year of college after graduating from Waubonsee Community College’s GED Enhanced program in December 2013.

Waubonsee Community College was not David Kabanda’s first attempt at college in the U.S.

But it was at Waubonsee, through the college’s GED Enhanced program, Kabanda finally gained the boost he needed to take the first steps on his postsecondary educational journey.

More than 14 years ago, Kabanda, of Oswego, came to the U.S. from the west African Republic of the Congo to follow his dream of both obtaining a better life for himself and using his experiences in the U.S. to then improve the lives of those back in his home country.

Living first in both Florida and California, Kabanda said he attempted to navigate community colleges in both states, but the experiences didn’t meet his needs or expectations.

“So I gave up on it,” he said.

So when friends and family who had attended Waubonsee recommended the college to him, Kabanda was hesitant.

“I was skeptical, because of my past experiences,” he said.

Despite his misgivings, Kabanda enrolled in Waubonsee’s GED Enhanced program in October 2013. Two months later, Kabanda said he earned his GED.

And now, one year later, Kabanda is wrapping up his first year of college, with his eye toward his goal of launching a career in computer science or information technology – a career he believes he can put to use helping to create jobs and opportunities and make life easier for the citizens of the Congo.

“I, too, have found Waubonsee very helpful,” Kabanda said.

Kabanda is one of many helped by Waubonsee’s GED Enhanced program.

In 2012, Waubonsee replaced traditional GED instruction at the downtown Aurora Campus with GED Enhanced. Developed in partnership with the National College Transition Network and with funding through a Title V grant, the GED Enhanced program includes modules focused on Language Arts, Math, Study Skills and Organization, Career Exploration and College Knowledge, as well as mandatory i-Pathways work in science and social studies.

The rollout of the GED Enhanced program at Waubonsee coincided with changes to the GED test in 2014.

The program is designed to not only help students obtain a GED, but also more successfully transition to college. Prior to GED Enhanced, about 2 percent of students transitioned from GED or ESL courses to college credit courses at Waubonsee. Since 2012, 137 students, or about 25 percent of GED Enhanced students have transitioned to college credit courses.

Further, 71 percent of those who make the transition to college credit courses have gone on to successfully complete college courses.
Dr. Stacey Randall, Director of Institutional Effectiveness at Waubonsee, said GED Enhanced works particularly well at helping students understand they can earn a GED, and then believe they can also succeed in college.

“Throughout the program, we are encouraging them to think about college as a place for them, not just others,” Randall said. “So many don’t even see college as an option for them.”

“We show them they absolutely can be college students,” Randall said.


 

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